CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Corporal Tyrone Richmond wanted a challenge when he joined the Marines. When he made it to Iraq for his second tour he found it.
Richmond recently received a combat meritorious promotion to the noncommissioned officer rank of corporal. He was awarded the rank from among his peers who were vying for the promotion.
Richmond’s experience was well beyond his years in the Corps, which are surprisingly few. The field radio operator and 2002 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School joined the Corps nearly two years ago. There, he was a percussionist with the school’s band.
“I enlisted to make my mother proud and to give myself a challenge,” said Richmond. “After high school, I was just looking see what my options were.”
And he’s had plenty so far.
“When we arrived here in March, we had a lot of work to do setting up the communications network, rewiring the radios and organizing the gear. No matter how much work there is, it’s always a challenge just being here.”
The 21-year-old East Bank, New Orleans, La. native is part of the camp’s quick reaction ‘Forward,’ responsible for setting up communications outside the camp’s perimeter or in a combat situation. His job is part of the foundation for information entering and leaving the combat operations center where the battle plans are made before they’re put to action. Without Marines like Richmond, the command would be in the dark.
Unlike many of the Marines in his platoon, this isn’t Richmond’s first time in Iraq. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom last year and served in the insurgent-held city of Fallujah with Marines of 1st Marine Division.
“I was the only radio operator for an army battalion that supported the division during the fight,” said Richmond. “We also patrolled through Iskandariyah to the south.”
Richmond’s combat experience helps him train his fellow Marines in Radio Platoon for what they may experience during the coming months of their deployment here. While some of them remain on camp, monitoring the radio transmissions that go in and out of the division, others like him are attached to smaller subunits.
“We have a lot of Marines pushed out to places like Truck Company and the quick reaction force,” said Richmond. “There are a lot of great people here who volunteer to go out on convoys as radio operators for the companies and I like to be part of that kind of unit.”
Though Richmond isn’t spending as much time outside of the wire, he plans to make the most of his newest experience in Iraq. He’s recently been cross training with Marines from other sections in Headquarters Battalion’s Communications Company in the realm of computers and networking.
“If nothing else, you can always learn something new,” said Richmond. “I plan to do as much as I can out here and when I get back, enroll in some college courses. Above all else, I’m just proud to serve my country.”